Cup of Joe – 10/24/21

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that Democrats are within striking distance of agreement on President Biden’s sweeping domestic agenda, The Hill reports. Said Pelosi: “We had a very positive meeting this morning; I’m very optimistic. It’s exciting, because whatever it is, it’s going to be bigger than anything we’ve ever done for the American people.”   A short time later, she estimated that “more than 90 percent of everything is agreed to.”  

Playbook: “It sure seems like the ball is on the goal line. The question is what’s in the Dems’ game plan to push this thing into the end zone.”

“A deal within reach, President Joe Biden and Congress’ top Democrats edged close to sealing their giant domestic legislation, though the informal deadline appeared to slip as they worked to scale back the measure and determine how to pay for it,” the AP reports. “Negotiations were expected to continue into the weekend, all sides indicating just a few issues remained unsettled in the sweeping package of social services and climate change strategies.”

Politico: “Those negotiations, between the White House, Manchin and Sinema, are largely the final hurdles to a deal.”

“House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) aims to strike a deal on President Joe Biden’s social safety net plan before Monday as Democrats scramble to salvage heir economic agenda,” CNBC reports. Said Hoyer: “We’d like to get a framework by the end of – frankly today, but no later than the end of the weekend.”

Politico: “Public proclamations aside, we’re bearish on a framework this week (think more like next week) and skeptical about any end-of-the-month deadline to pass this bill.”

New York Times: “That approach appears to have brought Mr. Biden to the precipice of victory on a $2 trillion deal that could begin to define his legacy as a successful Oval Office legislative architect, one who is reshaping government spending and doing so by the narrowest of margins in a country with deep partisan and ideological chasms.”

“But the bill is certain to be far smaller than what he originally proposed, and far less ambitious than he and many of his allies had hoped. It won’t make him the one who finally secured free community college for everyone. Seniors won’t get free dental, hearing and vision coverage from Medicare. And there won’t be a new system of penalties for the worst polluters.”

It’s a fast moving target, but the Associated Press ties to make sense of what’s in — and what’s out — of the budget reconciliation bill.

Washington Post: “While her colleagues dined, Sinema was elsewhere in the Capitol, huddling with White House officials continuing to negotiate on the tax code, climate initiatives and the social safety net, according to two aides. She had met with Biden earlier that day at the White House, and, unbeknown to many House and Senate Democrats, had been engaging in talks with a small handful of colleagues.”

“But Sinema’s whereabouts on the day of the Senate lunch were emblematic of her actual approach, according to people directly familiar with it: Eschew all but a select few congressional colleagues, focus on negotiating directly with the president and his senior aides, burrow in on policy details — and ignore the frustration of those not privy to her thinking.”

“A new whistleblower affidavit submitted by a former Facebook employee Friday alleges that the company prizes growth and profits over combating hate speech, misinformation and other threats to the public,” the Washington Post reports.

A trove of internal documents turned over to the SEC provides new details of Facebook’s role in fomenting the storming of the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Post reports.

“Facebook has never publicly disclosed what it knows about how its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, helped fuel that day’s mayhem. It rejected its own Oversight Board’s recommendation that it study how its policies contributed to the violence and has yet to fully comply with requests for data from the congressional commission investigating the events.”

“But thousands of pages of internal company documents disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission by the whistleblower Frances Haugen offer important new evidence of Facebook’s role in the events.”

New York Times: “Company documents show that the social network’s employees repeatedly raised red flags about the spread of misinformation and conspiracies before and after the contested November vote.”

NBC News: “In summer 2019, a new Facebook user named Carol Smith signed up for the platform, describing herself as a politically conservative mother from Wilmington, North Carolina. Smith’s account indicated an interest in politics, parenting and Christianity and followed a few of her favorite brands, including Fox News and then-President Donald Trump.”

“Though Smith had never expressed interest in conspiracy theories, in just two days Facebook was recommending she join groups dedicated to QAnon, a sprawling and baseless conspiracy theory and movement that claimed Trump was secretly saving the world from a cabal of pedophiles and Satanists.”

“Smith didn’t follow the recommended QAnon groups, but whatever algorithm Facebook was using to determine how she should engage with the platform pushed ahead just the same. Within one week, Smith’s feed was full of groups and pages that had violated Facebook’s own rules, including those against hate speech and disinformation.”

“The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas’ abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime,” Axios reports.

Oral arguments are scheduled for November 1.

“This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other,” Axios reports.

“All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.”

“A range of people—from nurses to firefighters to students—have filed lawsuits objecting to the mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations imposed by states and cities, claiming the policies infringe on their constitutional rights,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “Nearly every legal challenge has failed so far.”

“With limited exceptions involving religious objectors, judges have overwhelmingly upheld orders in numerous states that require health workers, public employees, state university students and government contractors to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as a condition of employment. These rulings have allowed states to fire workers who refuse immunization.”

“Lev Parnas, a Florida businessman who is an associate of Rudy Giuliani, was found guilty on Friday of using funds from a foreign investor to try to influence political candidates through campaign donations,” the Washington Post reports.

“It took the federal jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan less than a day to find that Parnas committed fraud through donations to several state and federal candidates that were bankrolled by a Russian financier.”

CNN: “Parnas faces up to five years in prison for each of five counts and a sixth count for falsifying records to the FEC carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence.”

John Eastman, author of the now-infamous legal memo making the case that Vice President Mike Pence could reject electoral votes, repudiated his own memo in a National Review interview.

Said Eastman: “Anybody who thinks that that’s a viable strategy is crazy.”

Aaron Blake: The architect of Trump’s plot to steal the 2020 election explains himself — absurdly.

“The House select committee investigating the US Capitol insurrection is planning for former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to testify next Friday — teeing him up to be the first Trump administration official to comply with a subpoena for an interview with the panel,” CNN reports.

Washington Post: “They called it the ‘command center,’ a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election.”

“The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world’s attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term.”

Minnesota state Sen. Mark Koran (R) promoted a fundraiser for several constituents who are charged with participation in the deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol, saying they come from a “good family,” The Guardian reports.

Former President Donald Trump bashed Meghan McCain as a “bully” and a “lowlife” who should be grateful he arranged for her father to have the “world’s longest funeral,” the HuffPost reports.

Said Trump: “Isn’t it funny that Meghan McCain, who has always been a bully, and basically a lowlife, is now complaining that it was she who was bullied by the Slobs and Radical Left maniacs of ‘The View.’”

He added: “I made it possible for her father to have the world’s longest funeral… even though I was never, to put it mildly, a fan.”

Washington Post: “The relationship [between Trump and Kevin McCarty] remains hot and cold. The former president has leaked word about McCarthy’s visits to Trump’s homes in Bedminster, N.J., or Mar-a-Lago, Fla., to drive public interest, while also privately bad-mouthing McCarthy to advisers and entertaining the possibility that someone else might make a better speaker, according to the former president’s aides.”

“Aides say Trump has learned to be wary of McCarthy’s different interests, even as they continue to work together. Trump, these aides say, has still not forgiven McCarthy for his proposed censure for the Capitol riot.”

Said one Trump adviser: “He’ll never get over that. It’s really their main disagreement.”

Ben Jacobs: “The dirty secret in Washington right now is that everyone can be Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema if they want. If any Democrat has a pet issue or a particular gripe, they can derail the tortuous negotiations over the massive social-spending bill being pushed by the Biden administration.”

Jack Shafer: “Trump is a moderately successful businessman when he sticks to his specialties — real estate and hotels. But all those overpriced, shoddy namesake products failed in the marketplace because Trump didn’t know how to compete with people who really understood those businesses.”

“We can expect Truth Social and the other world-beater enterprises TMTG proposes to likewise be sucked into the void because Trump 1) has no clue about how to run media or tech properties and 2) lacks sufficient appeal.”

“Senior Democrats are preparing a sweeping new tax plan that would aim to raise hundreds of billions of dollars from the fortunes of America’s roughly 700 billionaires, an abrupt shift in the party’s approach to funding a large expansion of the safety net,” the Washington Post reports.

“The State Department informed congressional staff Thursday that it is in touch with 363 US citizens in Afghanistan, 176 of whom want to leave,” CNN reports.

“Earlier this year, an insistent cry arose from business leaders and Republican governors: Cut off a $300-a-week federal supplement for unemployed Americans. Many people, they argued, would then come off the sidelines and take the millions of jobs that employers were desperate to fill,” the AP reports.

“Yet three months after half the states began ending that federal payment, there’s been no significant influx of job seekers.”

“The House Office of Congressional Ethics found ‘substantial reason to believe’ four congressmen — Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Alex Mooney (R-WV) — broke an assortment of ethics laws,” Forbes reports.

“The alleged offenses include misusing official funds, violating campaign-finance laws, misusing confidential information for personal gain and failing to properly report stock trades.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin again attacked Western liberalism in a fiery address on Thursday, blasting so-called cancel culture and advances in gay and transgender rights,” the Washington Post reports.

He also said the notion that children are “taught that a boy can become a girl and vice versa” is monstrous and “on the verge of a crime against humanity.”

He also suggested that transgender rights supporters were demanding an end to “basic things such as mother, father, family or gender differences.”

“Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) and GOP members of the Oklahoma Legislature want to prevent the State Health Department from issuing gender neutral birth certificates after the agency issued this month the state’s first nonbinary birth marker,” the Oklahoman reports.

Said Stitt: “I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period. There is no such thing as non-binary sex.”

Meanwhile, Insider reports Oklahoma State Rep. Mauree Turner (D), who is nonbinary, said it was difficult to work with people who “adamantly oppose your existence” after the Stitt made his comments.

“American presidents have spent decades trying to sidestep the question of how forcefully the United States would come to the aid of Taiwan if China invaded it or, more likely, tried to slowly strangle the island in an effort to force it back under the control of the mainland,” the New York Times reports.

“The American policy — called ‘strategic ambiguity’ because it leaves vague exactly how the United States would react — does not lend itself to a tough-sounding response. So the White House was quick to declare that American policy had not changed after President Biden was asked at a CNN town hall event on Thursday night whether the United States would protect Taiwan and he said, ‘Yes, we have a commitment to do that.’”

“Mr. Biden’s wording was a reminder of what a minefield Taiwan remains for the United States, 42 years after the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act and amid a major buildup of Chinese military forces in the region. And once a strategy of ambiguity is described in less-than-ambiguous terms, as he seemed to do on Thursday, it is hard to walk it back.”

This Strategic Ambiguity stance is bullshit and, and like a game plan in football, does not survive the first series against China. China is challenging Taiwan’s sovereignty and safety. Being Strategically Ambiguous emboldens them. Biden is right. If China invades Taiwan, Beijing is destroyed.

“A former politician who called for the overthrow of the French government has been charged with terrorism in connection with what authorities have said was an extreme-right plot to attack vaccination centers, a masonic lodge and other targets,” the AP reports,

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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